Hybrid patches of commoning - Unpacking influences of the hydrosocial cycle on commoning in a downstream desert reclamation area : case study in Youssef El Seddik, Egypt

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Utveckling och internationellt samarbete; Södertörns högskola/Utveckling och internationellt samarbete

Abstract: Water stress is increasing globally, especially affecting arid regions of the world such as Egypt. Due to challenges related to intensifying effects of climate change and a rapidly growing population, the levels of and access to water is a continuous area of concern for the country – making it important to analyze how these water issues are managed. This study connects the hydrosocial cycle and commoning frameworks in analyzing how water is managed in a downstream, desert reclamation area in Fayoum, Egypt – and how this management, or lack thereof, affects the livelihoods of the people living there. In doing so, we examine how possible commoning practices are influenced by factors related to the hydrosocial cycle. Fieldwork has been conducted for this case study by holding participatory workshops, semi-structured interviews, and observations. Our findings imply that the hydrosocial cycle has shaped the management of water in our studied site, which has in turn affected the commoning practices that take place there. The low water levels and the saline quality of the water is what has created the prevalent forms of commoning that can be seen in the community.  The presence of a local agricultural association has also influenced the commoning practices. The quality and levels of water in the area are in part managed by neighbors borrowing irrigation minutes from each other, and by collective olive harvest. To a lesser extent there are also instances of neighbors helping each other with agricultural work throughout the year, and sharing reservoirs. There are indications that these commoning practices play a part in sustaining livelihoods in the community. The commoning practices found in the studied site have emerged in a relatively new social context and can be characterized as context specific patches of commoning, occurring on the peripheries of hybrid institutions – that have largely been shaped by hydrosocial forces. As the hydrosocial cycle is ever-changing, these commoning practices will likely also come to change.

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